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BULLFIGHTING

European Parliament votes against subsidizing bullfighting sector

But project still needs to overcome hurdles before breeders stop receiving €130 million

The EU initiative still has many hurdles to clear before it affects bullfighting.
The EU initiative still has many hurdles to clear before it affects bullfighting. EFE

Europe is turning its back on the world of bullfighting. On Wednesday, the European Parliament overwhelmingly voted against financing part of this industry with public subsidies.

While the European Union has never specifically funded bullfighting, part of the money allocated to the Common Agricultural Policy (PAC) can indirectly go to breeders of fighting bulls.

“This is a great victory. European citizens no longer want to subsidize anything that involves killing animals,” said Florent Marcellesi, of the European Greens, and the promoter of the initiative.

The vote distribution shows clear lines dividing northern and southern countries, rather than left-wing and right-wing political beliefs

But the vote is at risk of being more symbolic than anything else.

Despite the victory, there is still a long way to go before bull breeders stop receiving €130 million a year from the European budget, in estimates offered by Marcellesi based on official data.

The chamber now has to secure support for its decision from the European Council, made up of the heads of state or government of EU members. After that, agricultural policy regulations will have to be altered to include the changes voted on in parliament.

The change was introduced via an amendment to the 2016 budget and states that the EU’s agricultural policy “should not be used for the financing of lethal bullfighting activities.” Doing so would constitute “a clear violation of the European convention on animal protection” at cattle farms.

Farming and cattle subsidies are awarded based on the land surface reported by each owner, without taking into account what specific kind of agricultural activity goes on there.

The newly approved amendment would require a change to PAC rules, which requires approval by the member states, and which certainly will not happen in time to affect the 2016 budget.

The European Greens had introduced similar amendments in the past, but this is the first time the proposal receives such a majority support. The text asking to suppress funding for bull breeders was backed by 438 MEPs and rejected by 199, while 50 abstained.

The vote distribution shows clear lines dividing northern and southern countries, rather than left-wing and right-wing political beliefs. While some members of the European People’s Party Group voted against the subsidies, nine out the 14 Spanish Socialists in the chamber rejected eliminating them.

English version by Susana Urra.